Preparing for Worship

by | May 15, 2020 | Preparing For Worship

This is a season of transitions for me, and I know I’m not alone in that. In worship this Sunday, we recognize our graduating high school seniors, who also find themselves in one of life’s most important transitions — playing out in the most unusual of times.

Others among us are facing forced transitions through loss of job, reduction in income, required isolation that keeps us away from family and friends, and the transition into a life of extreme uncertainty because we just can’t see how this all will play out.

For my part, I’m working hard to finish well here at Wilshire before transitioning to a new role July 1 with Baptist News Global. And even though I’m not technically an employee of BNG yet, being the designated executive director of a nonprofit organization requires a lot of advance work before stepping into the actual job. I’m working on staffing and budgets and strategy and building relationships.

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately while traveling through this virtual world we’re inhabiting. Even in isolation, relationships are the glue that holds us together. We’re able to find meaning in a temporary virtual world primarily because we know what the real world feels like.

Consider how we interact with abstract art. An abstract painting of a coffee mug has deeper meaning to us if we have held an actual coffee mug in our hands and know what it looks like. We can look at an abstract representation and let our brains fill in some of the blanks so that we say, “Oh, I see a coffee mug!”

Virtual church has meaning in part because we know what real church is like. Same with virtual Sunday School. We more easily find community online because we have experienced community in real life.

The tension of transitions can pull us apart. At least it may feel like we’re being pulled two directions at the same time. Leaving the nest and starting a new life. Not knowing whether that new life will be in a dorm or somewhere else due to the pandemic. Attending church but not being physically at church. Seeing friends but not being able to hug them or shake a hand. Floating between jobs. All these are transition points that are made bearable by the reality of relationships.

Even in “normal” times, that’s really what our worship gatherings are too. We gather because of relationship — with God and with each other. And we practice something transitional, with our feet planted on earth and our eyes lifted toward heaven.

This Sunday morning, think about the relationships that help you span the gap between the present and the not-yet, the human and the divine, the real and the abstract. And even in our virtual worship, may we find deeper meaning because we have known something real.